Raspberry Neapolitan Party Cake

Raspberry Neapolitan Cake via Sweetapolita

Neapolitan is one of those words that makes me feel like a little girl the moment I hear it or think about it. And while I never actually ate Neapolitan cake as a child, I ate my fair share of Neapolitan ice cream (well, just the vanilla portion anyway). Chocolate and/or strawberry ice cream just wasn’t (and still isn’t) my thing, but I sure have fond memories of the visual — that big frozen block of tri-colour loveliness meant one thing and one thing only: a party (and where there was ice cream, there was usually cake).

And the thing is, you can really create so many variations using the beloved chocolate, strawberry and vanilla combination — remember this and these? Endless fun.

Raspberry Neapolitan Cake via Sweetapolita

So, because I’d never done it before, I decided to switch up the strawberry with raspberry for this version, and rather than use a “pink” cake layer, just filled the cake with the fruity raspberry Swiss buttercream and compote, and then covered it all in a mix of dark chocolate buttercream, vanilla and more of the raspberry. The cake does take a bit of time to make because there are four components, but it comes together surprisingly quickly — especially if you make the raspberry compote and Swiss buttercream ahead of time.

The frosting job was a little more rustic looking than originally planned, but I hadn’t done it this way before, and had a vision. But once I started frosting it, I was worried that if I kept smoothing for more of a blended look (like this, this and this cake), my chocolate and vanilla would soon look like chanilla, which I imagine to be a little less than magical (although I bet it would still taste pretty delightful). This sort of sectioned style of frosting the cake reminded me of the block of childhood ice cream I mentioned above, so I stuck with that.

Bunting via Sweetapolita

And nothing says party like a tiny cake bunting, right?  This is one that I had from several years ago that was actually one single garland, but I just re-purposed it by tying it to two white lollipop sticks. You’ve likely seen cake bunting all over Pinterest and the like, and you can either MacGvyer your own (pretty much anything colourful tied between two sticks and stuck in the cake would look charming) using twine, string, cord, etc. or buy one of the seemingly endless versions on Etsy.

Raspberry Neapolitan Cake via Sweetapolita

Party for one?

Raspberry Neapolitan Party Cake via Sweetapolita

Like a playful (and decadent) trip to childhood and back.

And before I go, I’d love to share my recent interview over at Best Friends For Frosting with you, where I got a chance to chat about my past life, balance and avoiding weight gain while surrounded by baked goods all day! ♥

Raspberry Neapolitan Party Cake

Yield: One 4-layer, 8-inch round cake

Alternating layers of moist vanilla and dark chocolate cake, filled with raspberry Swiss meringue buttercream and smothered in a trio of dark chocolate, vanilla and raspberry buttercream.

Ingredients

    For the Chocolate Cake:
  • 1-3/4 cups (225 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (120 g) Cacao Barry Extra Brute Cocoa Powder
  • 2 teaspoons (11 g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (4 g) salt
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 ml) strong black coffee or espresso, hot
  • 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • For the Vanilla Cake:
  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 4 large egg whites (130 g), at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.75 ml) almond extract
  • 2-1/2 cups (288 g) cake flour, sifted
  • 1-1/2 cups (300 g) sugar
  • 1-1/4 tablespoons (16 g) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (6 grams)
  • 1-1/2 sticks (170 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
  • For the Raspberry Compote:
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries, divided
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) superfine or granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoons (15 ml) lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) water
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  • 8 large fresh egg whites (240 g)
  • 2 cups (500 g) superfine granulated sugar
  • 5 sticks (575 g) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2.5 oz (75 g) premium dark or extra dark chocolate, melted and cooled
  • Few drops pink soft gel paste colour

Instructions

    For the Chocolate Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease, line with parchment and flour two round 8-inch pans. I use Parchment Paper Circles for ease.
  2. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift all dry ingredients. In a large measuring cup, combine eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredient mixture to the dry ingredients, increasing the speed to medium. Mix for 1-1/2 minutes (you may need the plastic splash-guard that comes with mixer) and divide among prepared pans (each pan will weigh ~590 g).
  4. Bake until toothpick or skewer comes out with a few crumbs, about 25 minutes. Try not to overbake. Cool on wire racks in pans for 15 minutes then gently invert onto racks until completely cool.
  5. For the Vanilla Cake:
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease, line with parchment and flour two round 8-inch pans. I use Parchment Paper Circles for ease.
  7. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir 1/3 cup of the milk, egg whites, whole egg, vanilla and the almond extract. Set aside.
  8. Sift cake flour twice. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients, including the sugar, together on low-speed (I use the “stir” setting on my mixer) for 30 seconds.
  9. Add the butter blending on low-speed for about 30 seconds, then add remaining milk, and mix on low-speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1-1/2 minutes (90 seconds), but no more.
  10. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg/milk/extract mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition.
  11. Pour 1/2 of your batter (445 g) into each prepared pan, spreading it evenly with a small offset palette knife. If possible, weigh the batter in the pans to ensure 2 even layers.
  12. Bake cake layers two-at-a-time in center of oven and 2" apart for 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes clean when inserted into the center. Be so careful to not over-bake. Check cake at 20 minutes, but not before, and once you feel it’s almost ready, set the timer for 2 minute intervals. Let cool on racks for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a small metal spatula, and invert onto greased wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up and cool completely.
  13. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Best enjoyed day 1 or 2.
  14. For the Raspberry Compote:
  15. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 1-1/2 cups of the raspberries, sugar, lemon juice, water, and salt until the berries start to break down, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
  16. Lower the heat and simmer until compote coats a spoon, about 15 minutes.
  17. Remove from heat and let cool down slightly. Using an immersion blender (carefully) or counter-top blender, pulse until smooth. Push compote through a fine mesh sieve into a clean glass bowl and discard the seeded pulp from the sieve. Stir in remaining raspberries. Keep covered and chilled for up to 3 days.
  18. For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  19. Wipe the bowl and whisk of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 160°F, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
  20. Place bowl back on mixer and fit with whisk attachment. Whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 15 minutes, or longer). Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add softened butter one tablespoon at a time until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth).
  21. Add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.
  22. Assembly of the Raspberry Neapolitan Party Cake:
  23. Divide buttercream in half. Add 3 tablespoons (one tablespoon at a time) of the raspberry compote to one half, along with a few drops of pink gel colour (if desired). Set aside.
  24. Take half of the remaining buttercream and add the melted chocolate, stirring until well incoporated. Leave the final portion of buttercream vanilla.
  25. Using a cake turntable if possible, place first chocolate cake layer face-up on a cake plate, cake board or pedestal and cover with ~3/4 cup of raspberry buttercream, spreading with a small offset palette knife, leaving about 1" clearance around the edges. Carefully place a few spoonfuls of compote on top, keeping it in the middle.
  26. Place a vanilla cake layer face-up on top and repeat with buttercream/compote. Repeat until you come to the final chocolate cake layer, which you will place face-down. Cover cake in plastic wrap, then use your hands to straighten any leaning or layers that aren't lined up. Chill for 30 minutes.
  27. Remove from refrigerator, remove wrap and cover cake a very thin layer of the vanilla buttercream. Chill for another 30 minutes.
  28. Cover top of cake with a smooth layer of raspberry buttercream (extending it over the edges), bottom third of the cake with chocolate buttercream and remaining area with vanilla buttercream. Using a medium straight spatula (or similar tool), smooth buttercream over the cake and create a blended look.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • You can make the raspberry compote from fresh or frozen raspberries, and can make up to 3 days ahead of time (keep chilled). 
  • You can make the cake layers a day ahead, wrapping them well in plastic wrap and leaving at room temperature.
  • You can make the Swiss meringue buttercream up to a week ahead and leave in the refrigerator, bringing to room temperature the night before you need it. You can microwave 1/3 of it for about 10 seconds, add it to the remaining buttercream and either whip in the mixer or with a rubber spatula until smooth and creamy.
  • You can also freeze the Swiss meringue buttercream for up to a month, bringing to room temperature straight from freezer.
  • You can also pre-flavour the buttercream before freezing/refrigerating.
  • The cake bunting in the photos was a bunting I had from a previous party –I trimmed it and tied to two lollipop sticks.
  • This cake can be left out for a day, but should be refrigerated after that and brought back to room temperature before serving (I recommend bringing it out about 4-5 hours before serving.

Good luck & enjoy!

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Comments

  1. 1

    Oh my gosh, Rosie! I love this cake. It reminds me so much of my childhood too. The colors are so pleasing and it sounds delish!

  2. 2

    Lovely! I am pretty sure that when I was younger I went for strawberry part of that ice cream block!

  3. 5

    I’m so glad you stuck with this version! This cake looks so fabulous!

  4. 6

    I loved your interview over at Best Friends For Frosting. Neopolitan ice cream also takes me back to my childhood. My Grandma always had a carton in her freezer. This is a great way to incorporate that ice cream into cake form.

  5. 7

    Neapolitan brings back great memories, even though I only like the vanilla ice cream. This cake looks di-vine!! I must try it!

  6. 9

    This cake is stunning! I always loved Neapolitan ice cream as a child, and I’m certain I’d adore this cake as an adult!

  7. 10

    This cake is definitely a reminisce of my childhood! Love Neapolitan!! Especially strawberry!

  8. 11

    I love how this cake looks! Absolutely amazing! And very interesting the raspberry twist since I don’t really like strawberry ice-cream or buttercream either.
    Have a sweet Sunday, Rosie!
    xo
    P.S. I read your interview on BFFF, and I have to tell you that I loved it! Very inspirational. :)

  9. 12

    Wht a beautiful cake!! I always used to eat the vanilla out of the Neapolitan carton :

  10. 13

    Your cakes, as per usual, look beautiful! I realized recently how much I love Neapolitan ice cream flavors. But it has to be the artificial strawberry flavor. I hate the strawberry chunks some of the ice creams have :P

  11. 14

    Hi your cake is beautiful, I have no idea how your buttercream looks so smooth! I never have that level of success. Thanks for sharing your recipe :)

  12. 15

    I want to live inside of one of your photo shoots :)

  13. 17

    Your cakes are just so gorgeous! I love the idea of this cake and it looks stunning!

  14. 18

    I haven’t thought about neopolitan ice cream for so long but you’re right, it’s a total party food. This cake is such a beautiful version of the classic!

  15. 19

    omg love this! You are SO talented

  16. 21

    It looks amazing! And you icing is flawless, I’m feeling very jelouse :)

  17. 22

    Beautiful cake, perfect for any party!

  18. 23
    Karen White says:

    I look forward to every single one of your posts. Thanks for creating such loveliness for the rest of us to enjoy :)

  19. 24

    This cake is so beautiful!!

  20. 25

    You have done it again! I am swooning over this cake, can’t wait to try it! Thankyou for all your inspiration x

  21. 26

    J’adore !!!

  22. 28

    Totally stunning…and I bet equally as yummy!

  23. 30

    Thank youuuuu, this looks soooo yummy!!!

  24. 31

    I’m not sure how you manage to always post such beautiful, original cakes. This is another stunner, Rosie! One day I wish to make ONE cake like all the cakes you make!

  25. 32

    The switch to raspberry (a favorite of mine) must be delicious! And that bunting on top is a sweet touch, while still allowing the cake itself to shine!

  26. 33

    I need to make more cakes, they are so pretty! This one is especially beautiful with the three colors. Though I was always one to eat the strawberry and vanilla ice cream and leave behind the chocolate ice cream!

  27. 34

    Beautiful and yummy! And the bunting is just perfect. You’re so talented!

  28. 35

    This cake looks very delicious! I love making layered cakes. Their just like people, full of surprises.

  29. 36
    justbakin says:

    Hi Rosie,
    The cake luks realy mouth watering..I thing you have amazing talent n your are perfect art!! I am plannin on making this cake this weekend..so was reading the directions over n over..(just making sure I understood well!!)till I cam to step 22.If d question I’m asking is kinda dumb,plz do forgive me..but is there a difference as to which layer of cake(chocolate or vanilla)comes on the top??based on d crumbs that fall off during the coating..I ask because it says to start with a chocolate layer n then a vanilla n so on..so its a vanilla layer that comes on top right??Does it crumble less and so is on top or is it just personal preference??
    oh..btw It might not even make a difference..its pretty clear you go with alternate layers..which makes it a vanilla layer and not a chocolate layer on top as mentioned…but just thought you might want to know..

    • 37
      justbakin says:

      Hi Again,
      just to give an update..I did make the cake..Kinda changed the neapolitan theme though..instead of the raspberry made a salted caramel buttercream from your salted caramel n popcorn recipe(it was heavenly!!mind blowing!! was lickn off spoons of it during my frosting,cudnt help myself!!)the cake was moist too..did your pastel swirl technique though it was an ombre of vanilla,caramel n chocolate buttercream..with a two toned buttercream roses to top it off!!!Truly awesome!! It was for a 2yr old’s bday party..Thank you for the inspiration, the amazing cakes n ideas!!!The family loved the cake surprise..and its complexity!!!just Thank You..Thank You.. and Thank You.!!Keep Blogging..xoxoxo!!

  30. 38

    What a beautiful cake. I love it! This is my first time here, but I am bookmarking to make sure I come back regularly! :)

  31. 39

    Planning to do this one for guests this week, can’t wait! Unfortunaty I have had a little trouble with your chocolate buttercream, I get little chunks of chocolate, as if when I put the melted chocolate in it’s cooling too quickly? Should I pour it in slowly while the mixer is running or just pour it all in and start mixing? Should I let the chocolate cool at all or just pu it straight in from melting? Thanks, it’s delicious, just harder to smooth on the cake! :)

  32. 40

    Wow, this cake looks GORGEOUS as always. I wish I could sample a piece of this cake from the picture now. Thank you for always posting such yummy sweets, it is so inspiring and motivates me to try so many of your creations:)

  33. 41
    diane petty says:

    I love this cake and I am going to make if for my friends daughters birthday on Friday.I am petrified about getting the frosting as sectional as you have, I don’t want it to end up blended as in your tutorial. I may try it out for a monthly office order on Thursday as a practise. Your frosting is so exxact, brilliant.

  34. 42

    this looks amazing, and is so gorgeous too. thus far i haven’t been able to bring myself to make the swiss meringue buttercream because of the amount of butter it calls for, but i just might have to for this recipe!

  35. 43

    Your cakes are so pretty!!

  36. 44
    Yanina Noboa says:

    Hi, its me again, I did tried this recipe, the taste is so good and yummy, but it does not rise at all and kinda have a hole in the middle of the cake, what could i be doing wrong, I live in south america could it be because of the high of the place i live, please help me thanks

  37. 45

    This looks beautiful! I’ve already got my birthday cake planned out but I’m tempted to scrap it and try for a neapolitan cake.. hmmm

  38. 46

    so lovely rosie!!! i really want to try your multi-colour exterior frosting effect… ! and loved your interview on BFFF. funny how you get the constant emails about how you stay trim and beautiful while baking and being surrounded by beautiful desserts all day!

    cake bunting is super cute, too!!! it’s such a fun way to PARTY TIME up a cake!

    xoxo

  39. 47
    diane petty says:

    OMg I am just at the stages of 1st assembly and it is a nightmare.All the layers are sliding off because of the compote. Compote and pink frosting now squelching out everywhere.This is a disaster and I have a birthday tomorrow.It is now in the fridge chilling before the white crumb coat.I know the crumb coat will now have pink frosting and compote all mixed in I am sure once I start putting it on,I have removed a lot that squelched out but it is impossible to remove it all. How on earth can it be transported with the layers all sliding off. Adding the rest of the frosting will not help. I think drinking straws will have to be inserted in the keep it in one piece. The cake layers are also much to thick, it needs to be baked in 9 inch tins not 8. No sleep tonight it seems.Lets hope I do not have to abandon the cake altogether. I do think,and not being rude that the cake in the picture was done specically for food photography only. No way can this cake look like this when cut. For a start it will all slide apart. I should have tested the recipe first,but being experienced did not worry to much. Nightmare, nightmare.So disappointed.

    • 48

      Diane, if the cake layers are chilled, there should be no slipping. The cake in the photos is the cake I made with the exact method I shared in instructions — there was no special cake for photography purposes. The key to building a layer cake, especially one with any type of fruit filling, is chill, chill, chill. I’m sorry you had trouble with it, but I can promise you the cake layers were baked in 8-inch tins and assembly done just as explained. Hope you’ve recovered from the cake 911!

  40. 49

    I made this cake and it turned out awesome. Flavours were bang on (Neapolitan)that is. Didn’t turn out exactly like yours but pretty close. Only different thing I did was use strawberry puree instead of the raspberry puree. Hubby gave it a two thumbs up. I’ve made many recipes of yours and they always turn out wonderful and delicious. Love your blog and always await for something new. Keep up the great work you do! I always look forward to your new post.

  41. 50

    The colours of neopolitan cakes are always a hit. This looks lovely indeed. Also, we love the addition of the raspberry. Yum! Kind regards, Juniper Cakery

  42. 51

    hi rosie
    im from Australia I really need help with fillings its going to be my daughter 3rd birthday and I really want to make a dora cake but she doesn’t like cheese or any fruit or nuts .. I tried buttercream didn’t like it to much do u have any other ideas on fillings ???.. im doing a vanilla cake I really need your ideas and help with the recipes can u write it down in cups and mls thank u rosie

  43. 52

    My mom loved to get Neapolitan ice cream and Neapolitan pastry. Her favorite. =)

  44. 53

    Hi! I’m your fan from Malaysia. I have tried made this cake once but only with buttercream. I would like to try using your recipe especially those cream. It looks delicious ;)

  45. 54

    once again I have found the perfect cake on your site! This one will be the star of the baby shower for my soon to be grand daughter :) Any words of wisdom for increasing the recipe? I was thinking a half sheet cake. Thanks & keep baking <3

  46. 55
    Catherine says:

    Hi Rosie,
    Is this cake recipe sturdy enough to be covered in fondant? I’ll research your other chocolate recipes but HAVE TO TRY the chocolate and raspberry combo–YUM! Thank you!!

  47. 56

    You made some good points there. I looked on the web to find out more about the issue and found most individuals
    will go along with your views on this website.

  48. 57

    Simply absolutely beautiful cakes! I will try your Raspberry Neapolitan Cake for my grand – daughters birthday . Thanks for your tips and ideas. Judy

  49. 58

    I love your cakes, they are always picture perfect!

  50. 59

    awww i LOVE it! i just love those colours together… so classic and appealing!

    so cute you only ate the vanilla portion of neapolitan ice cream… i totally have memories of that ice cream as a kid too. i was a weirdo and liked to mix them all together into a slurry milkshake like consistency then eat it! haha… xo

  51. 61

    Hi would this cake hold well under fondant? Am making two tiers for a birthday cake please advise asap thanks heaps love the colors on your cake

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